An emerging COVID variant, EG.5, dubbed Eris, has been spreading rapidly, most notably in the United Kingdom and United States. The variant, which is showing up in one in every ten COVID cases, is a mutation of the Omicron strain. The latest numbers show that Eris accounts for 14.6 percent of COVID cases. The harsh summer weather and lowered immunity are just two of the factors propelling the spread of this strain.
The new strain accounts for 20 percent of cases in Asia, 10 percent in Europe, and 7 percent in North America. Eris began showing up just last month, particularly in Asia, with reports of increasing COVID cases. Experts warn that the wave of COVID cases may hit Australia next. The most common symptoms include a runny nose, headaches, mild to severe fatigue, sneezing, and a sore throat.
The variant now makes up the largest proportion of COVID infections in the U.S., at 17.3 percent of cases. Additionally, the variant has spread rapidly, increasing hospitalizations for the first time this year. At the end of June, the number of people hospitalized was at 6,300. As for the last week of July, the number increased to over 9,000 people. Notably, the numbers are still much lower than the period around December of last year, where hospitals were logging over 44,000 weekly COVID admissions.
UK health authorities believe that Eris may incite another wave of COVID diagnoses. Forecasts show that the surge may fully show itself in the coming months as children and adults return to school and work. Further, since most took their last vaccine months, or years ago, there is a possibility that the spread of the virus could be more rapid.
The World Health Organization categorizes the strain as a variant under monitoring. This is attributed to the population’s widespread immunity from vaccines and previous COVID infections.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is preparing to sign off on the latest COVID vaccine booster, which Pfizer is manufacturing.
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